Alyson at EdWeek contrasts the love-but-no-$ for Promise Neighborhoods and the whopping $517m for  the Teacher Incentive Fund, which allocates grants to districts to create or bolster performance-pay programs.

I’m on the board of MLA Partner Schools in Los Angeles which has developed a great turnaround strategy for a west LA neighborhood with a dozen big struggling schools. Perhaps these schools and MLA will benefit from SIG and i3 but with lots of folks scrambling for Promise money, they won’t get what they should to enact a great plan in the most difficult circumstances in the US.

In contrast, I’m a little skeptical of TIF.  If it’s a down payment on a new national performance-based employment bargain (career ladder, differentiated and performance-based pay, and no tenure) reinforced by a big chunk of RttT then it’s a great investment.  If its grants from a bunch of lame bonus programs then it’s a waste.

I’m glad Denver went early on performance pay (someone had to) but the cost/benefit ratio of their plan and associated investment just isn’t there.  It certainly indicates that it will be very expensive to buy a performance-based system.  It will be cheaper to insert them into turnaround plans and phase them in over time with a new generation of teachers happy to take a front rather than back loaded comp plan.

Pay schemes seem to be way down the list for top CMOs.  Maybe they’ll become more important with scale.  Point is, I just wouldn’t spend a half a billion on TIF at this point.

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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is author of Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and Learn Capital and serves on the boards of 4.0 Schools, eduInnovation, Digital Learning Institute, Imagination Foundation, Charter Board Partners and Bloomboard. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.

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